Friday, November 28, 2008

Lend Lease Makes Progress In Leasing Of Orchard Mall

Source : The Business Times, November 28, 2008

LEND Lease says it has found over 50 per cent of the retailers it needs for 313@Somerset Orchard Road.

Lend Lease development director Michael Kenderes would not reveal expected rents, but he said Lend Lease has 'agreed terms' with these retailers and expects to sign letters of offer early next year.

313@Somerset is one of three new malls opening on Orchard Road next year. Targeted at the mid-market segment, the mall has 294,000 sq ft of net lettable area with about 180 retail and F&B outlets.

Mr Kenderes did not reveal the names of any retailers but said that it had undertaken surveys and focus groups to arrive at the mall's positioning. 'It's not going to be all things to all people,' he added.

As a part of 313@Somerset's USP (unique selling position) Lend Lease will be focusing on service standards and will open a $1 million Retail Training and Employment Centre to provide retail training to the employees of its retailers. Mr Kenderes said that this was prompted by 'the retail industry's need for skilled workers geared towards service excellence'.

Lend Lease says it will fund around 60 per cent of the training centre and expects to seek additional funding through various government agencies.

Already six months into planning, Lend Lease is working with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency on obtaining course accreditation and expects to train about 1,000 employees a year. So far, it has about 600 potential trainees.

The training centre will focus on the Customer Centric Initiative programme developed by Spring Singapore.

Priority will be given to 313@Somerset's retailer's employees but additional space will be opened up to anyone interested.

The training programme will also be free.

Already, tenant Charles Wong of Charles & Keith is happy about being able to save on its business costs. Mr Wong said that his company spends about $20,000 on training a year. 'This will help to save cost, especially for SMEs for whom training is not top of mind during a downturn,' he added.

Mr Kenderes said that in Singapore alone, the training centre is expected to save over $3 million in potential savings from hiring costs, training costs and downtime.

The centre is expected to be fully operational by mid-2009.

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